News / Edmonton

Bike lane guide changing minds ahead of election

Paths for People says bike lanes benefit everyone, not just cyclists

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

A handy guide is changing minds on bike lanes, one city council candidate at a time.

Advocacy group Paths for People is distributing its new Five Reasons You Want Bike Lanes guide to municipal election candidates, and has turned one suburban candidate from an opponent to a fan, said Paths for People’s co-executive director Anna Ho.

Part of the reason they created the guide is so candidate's are knowledgable on the downtown bike grid and can provide reasoned responses when doorknocking.

“The conversation (about the bike grid) in Edmonton has been fairly adversarial. We’re hoping to shift that from bikes versus cars to allowing people more choices in their transportation options," Ho said.

She said the guide came out of a social media discussion with Ward 9 hopeful Payman Parseyan.

“Often when we think of bike lanes, we think that they’re just for the cyclist. And what we’re trying to do is bring some awareness about how it benefits all user groups,” Ho said.

Some of the guide’s pro-bike lane points include freeing up car traffic, reducing cyclist injuries and lowering healthcare costs by encouraging active transportation.

Ultimately, it argues, the infrastructure will save tax dollars for all Edmontonians.

Parseyan said his mind was changed after reading the guide and taking Paths for People up on a bike lane ride-along.

As a resident of suburban West Edmonton who is far removed from the downtown grid, Parseyan said he did not recognize the value of bike lanes before.

He said he’d knocked on 11,000 doors by Friday, and most area residents are in line with his former views – though that has also started to change.

“But when I explain to them at the doors ... I took the time to go into this community, and boy was that an eye opener for me, it gives me better insight."

The city officially marked the opening of its downtown bike grid on Saturday. The number of bikes on downtown streets nearly doubled one month after the grid was installed.

“What we see is once it’s there and once it’s comfortable and safe for people to use, it’s embraced by everyone,” Ho said.

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